Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar regrets to announce that it is highly likely that the first case of the new Omicron variant has been detected in Gibraltar, however, this will take another 24-48 hours to confirm.
As a result, and with immediate effect, the Contact Tracing Bureau will be advising all close contacts of this case that they will need to self isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. This will be a temporary measure which the Government is taking on the advice of the Director of Public Health and will be continuously reviewed.
The Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, said: ‘It is very likely that we will be confirming our first case of the Omicron variant in Gibraltar in the next 24-48 hours as further Genome sequencing takes place on this suspected case.
‘I have today advised the Chief Minister that we will be informing all close contacts of the suspected case that they should isolate immediately, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. I must stress however, that this is a temporary measure which we are taking which will buy us time until I have further data to be able to advise the Government.
I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise how important it is that people take their booster vaccines. There is now emerging evidence to suggest that three doses of the Pfizer vaccine can generate a neutralising effect against the new Omicron variant. If you have been offered your booster vaccine and declined it and have reconsidered, please do get in touch with the GHA by calling 20066966, emailing to arrange your appointment or by registering on the following link: https://www.gha.gi/pfizerbooster/ . Additionally, there will be walk-in clinics from 10am – Midday and 2pm–7pm on Friday 10th, Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th.’
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: ‘It is with regret that the Government is making this announcement today. I am advised that it is very likely that the suspected case will be confirmed as an Omicron variant shortly. The Government will always act on the advice received by its Director of Public Health to ensure that we try and minimise the spread as much as possible of this new variant.
‘As I have already repeatedly said, there is no better option for us than a highly vaccinated community. Please, there is now a significant amount of evidence that the efficacy of those initial doses has started to wear off, which is very concerning as we enter the winter months. Everyone who is offered a booster dose, which is now being rolled out to all those aged 16 and over, is therefore strongly encouraged to take it.
‘Please, follow the advice of Public Health professionals, especially if you are a close contact, and call 111 at the first onset of symptoms, no matter how mild they are. This will help you and help us in our fight against this persistent virus.’